Often "reputation journalism" is inconsequential, as when sports and show business media praises ballplayers and actors without mentioning their unsavory past. That type of coverage falls in the category of "does it really matter?"
But recently as the war drums are again being played asking for American action in Iraq, the same clique leading the war cries during the Bush era by saying how important U.S. military action was needed to protect America from terrorist attacks – Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Bill Kristol, Paul Bremer and John McCain – (as odwyerpr.com editor Kevin McCauley wrote on June 24) are again being position by the media as wise men and again are saying that Iraq must be defended to protect the American homeland, without the media reminding their guests and viewers how wrong they were in the past.
Thus far I haven’t seen another wrongo, Ahmed Chalabi, the Iraqi politician who was touted as an Iraq expert during the call to topple ex-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, and received more media exposure than the Super Bowl, World Cup and World Series together, making media appearances, (which I might have missed). But as sure as the media will reach out to another war hawk, Donald Rumsfeld, Chalabi’s media invites will soon come.The continuous use of “experts” who have been proven wrong in the past about Iraq shows the shallow side of media coverage, known as pack journalism. The use of fallen “experts” is not to be confused with the journalistic practice of giving both sides of the story. It’s both “repetition and reputation” journalism combined as it helps reestablish the reputation of newsmakers who shouldn’t be considered “experts” based on their past records.
Unfortunately, President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry are repeating the echoes of the past as they state that American troops will only act as advisors to Iraq's army and not conduct military operations.
It's as if they were mouthing the words of Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy, both of whom said they were only sending military advisors to Vietnam.
Is sending military advisors to Iraq necessary to protect the U.S. from terrorism or is it to protect Iraq’s oil fields (as Obama has just given permission for companies to again export American oil)? It’s a question that should be debated.
* * *
Arthur Solomon, former senior VP at Burson-Marsteller, contributes to PR/sports business publications, consults on PR projects and serves on the e Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.